Widely used recommendations for determining heart rate maximum (HRmax) in women have been called into question. According to researchers, the popular formula of 220 – Age = HRmax may produce numbers too high for optimal female physical health. After studying how HR response to exercise stress testing was associated with age and death rates among 5,437 asymptomatic women over about 16 years, scientists settled on a new calculation: 206 – (Age x 0.88) = HRmax.

So where did the original formula come from? “The definition of a normal HR response to exercise stress testing in women is poorly understood, given that most studies describing a normative response were predominately based on male data,” stated the study authors. the study was published in Circulation (2010; 122 [2], 130-37)